If you are a dummy at paperwork, like myself, arranging a Visa for Russia will give you grey hair and some Tourette outbursts.
For Europeans, the tourist visa is only valid for 30 days and you need a shitload of documents to finally get one. If you look at the size if the country, you will all agree with me that the length of a tourist visa is simply not fair.
Always have a look on the official website of the embassy in order to get up to date information about the required documents for your country of residence. DUH.
The most annoying part about the whole process is to get someone to invite you to come in (it's the same policy as for vampires).
Usually hotels provide this, but I did not want to be forced to plan my stay in order to get an invitation. So I've tried another option: the business Visa!
With this visa you can stay up to 90 days and enjoy the country in all peace and quiet.
First of all, let the world know that you want to find a company with contacts in Russia. Talk to as many people as possible about your quest, post it on your Facebook wall and let the universe do the rest.
I had found Magic Mirrors as my partner in crime.
I was quite stressed at the border control, since we can not deny that I did not really look professional in my backpackers outfit and I could barely pronounce the name of the Russian company. Even though I did not really look like a Public Relations manager, there was nothing to worry about, because when I was bragging with my clever way of getting a Business Visa, loads of people just answered: "Classic".
As long as your documents are signed and stamped, you're in. Because, frankly, no one really cares.
Even with a company supporting you, it is hard to make it go through.
This visa was the first one I have ever arranged in the history of all my existence and this is the point where the tradition of shouting “I don’t even want to enter your stupid country any more!!” leaving the embassy was born.
The only golden tip I can give to you is: make sure that you have all your documents STAMPED and signed. End of story.
You can also travel in Russia not by train.
I stayed for about one month on a Siberian farm and continued my route from Novosibirsk hitch hiking with a girl I had met from the mountains of Altai. On the farm I still had no idea how to get to Mongolia. I was searching to book a train back to Ulan-Ude (39 hours, 25,70 euro) and then take the typical bus to Ulaanbaator (12 hours drive, 18 euro). But by meeting this girl in the hostel I was squatting, I changed all my plans and hitch hiked with a BlablaCar to Askat in order to enter Mongolia from the West. In this way I would see all of Mongolia and I did not have to double a train route that I had already done.
According to Lonely Planet, this route would have cost me 40 euro, taking trains, buses and taxis in the most complicated circumstances.
From Askat I simply hitch hiked to a meeting point where my BlablaCar would pick me up. I shared a car with a custom agent who brought me to Tashanta in a time span of more than 8 hours. On the road he stopped on the most beautiful places and shared the wonder of one of the most beautiful auto routes in the world: M52, or the Chuyski Trakt. This route is totally worth the while and had cost me 22,70 Euro.
It was by meeting the right people at the border, that I was able to cross for free and ended up in Olgii with my very first Mongolian host.
All information about low budget vegan travel in Russia you can find here.